Every once in a while you see something that’s really cool—that has the potential to shift your habits and thinking. That "something," more often than not these days, comes from Google.
Google's latest big idea, Google Wave, does not disappoint.
Its Wave is such a new and big idea, it''s difficult to describe. Akin to email meets Twitter, meets instant messaging, and shared documents, and so on, the magic, as far as I can tell from the video demo and in my reading, is that it actually comes together. And more like a Phoenix than a Frankenstein.
The implications for marketers are profound. B2B marketers will have a few years to get ready because most businesses run on Microsoft Office, and I doubt Microsoft will be embracing Wave (even though it's said to be open-source) anytime soon. B2C marketers, on the other hand, need to get ready—and fast. Their customers, especially the online-savvy ones, will be looking to use Google Wave with the same kind of tech lust that has been the sole domain of the iPhone.
Assuming Google Wave makes it easy to interact with regular email, it'll be easy for marketers to bridge into the new paradigm it represents. Once in the Wave world, marketers, particularly (maybe exclusively) permission marketers, will enjoy one of the richest mechanisms ever for holding high-quality, two-way conversations with customers. In fact, I might go so far as to say Google Wave represents a potentially game-changing platform for marketers seeking to truly engage with customers.
If Google Wave succeeds, here are a few of the interesting behavioral shifts it could drive and that might affect marketers:
- We may see the first shift away from email as a paradigm since it was invented 40 years ago. This is a good thing because Google Wave appears to be so much more.
- The richness and relevance of Wave's discussion model will open up vast new ways for businesses and their customers to build permission relationships. In particular, assuming marketers handle the privacy question appropriately, the instantaneous, real-time nature of Wave's dialogues will give marketers more information than ever about their customers' interests.
- Advertisers may find it hard to enter into the dialogues of a Wave-dominated world; Wave's roots in instant messaging will make it harder to initiate uninvited conversations.
Google's Wave appears to be a truly innovative leap in how people communicate and collaborate. It's quite possible that it will have a much larger impact on marketing than social networking and, perhaps, even email itself. The future looks bright. Way to go Google.